Let’s face it, it’s NOT an easy task to get weeknight dinners on the table. Between work, carpool, housework and kids’ extra-curricular activities, it’s almost impossible to stay on top of the schedule and make healthy family meals a reality. The irony is that families of young athletes have the least amount of extra time but need healthy meals the most! So what are we to do?
Today I wanted to write about some shortcuts I use to feed my family healthy meals. Even with everything that goes on in our life, we are able to sit down and have a decent meal together 3-4 times a week, and that’s quite an accomplishment these days!
So what’s the secret to success in making the healthier choice the easier choice? There are 3 things I rely on to make it all happen:
1. The weekly veggie roast
Every week, I try to shop mostly the periphery of the grocery store (more on this in my “grocery shopping” blog) and always stock up on fresh veggies. I try to rotate them because as they say, variety is the spice of life! Usually on the weekend or on a day off from the hospital, I’ll chop a bunch of vegetables and roast them in a 425-450F degree oven for 30-45 minutes depending on the vegetables. Our favorites are butternut squash, beets, potatoes, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, asparagus…almost anything will work! Once I have my roasted veggies, I use them in everything! Omelets or mini quiches in the morning, as a side dish for dinner, and I even add some vegetable or chicken stock and blend them all for a tasty vegetable soup! Even my picky one will eat it! Best part is kids can pick out the veggies they like and they end up trying something new almost every week! Still working on the “liking something new” every week! Wishful thinking!
2. A mom’s best friend: the slow cooker
I wrote about my obsession with the slow cooker in The Crockpot- A Busy Mom’s Secret Weapon What’s not to like; minimal prep, throw it all in, set it and forget it! This is my go to when I’m the one driving to practice and we’ll all be home at dinnertime. But the key to loving your slow cooker is to buy good cookbooks! I must admit growing up in Puerto Rico we never used a slow cooker, and my idea of slow cooking involved average quality beef, potatoes, carrots and some sort of brown sauce. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it gets old. Below are my favorite cookbooks for the slow cooker; they offer great food from around the world, with a variety of flavor profiles and something for everyone.
Essentials of Slow Cooking, Williams-Sonoma
The Gourmet Slow Cooker; Simple and Sophisticated Meals from Around the World, by Lynn Alley
3. Your neighborhood restaurant
This is kind of a sneaky one, but it works! Find your favorite neighborhood little restaurant; you know, the one that serves great food at reasonable prices and everyone in the family has a favorite. Talk to the manager, tell him your family will be ordering food for pick up regularly; once a week, every two weeks, once a month. Give them your order and feel free to make adjustments (no butter, sauce on the side, extra veggies). The owner/manager should be happy to accommodate. On your way home from a practice or game, stop by and pick up your meal. You’ll be sitting down to great food in no time! OK, so it’s not quite “home-made,” but it certainly beats the drive thru!
Good luck, and I hope these tips help! Do YOU have any time-saving tips for busy moms (and dads)? Comment or share!